After spending 165 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS), three crew members of Expedition 41 have safely returned to Earth, touching down in Kazakhstan yesterday, Nov 9th, at 10:58 p.m. Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), US flight engineer, Reid Wiseman of NASA, and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) are now readjusting to Earth’s gravity with the help of a Russian recovery team.
While in space, the adventurers traveled roughly 70 million miles, and conducted various scientific experiences in the process – from the standard spacewalk to research on Earth’s remote sensing to studies of human bone and muscle physiology.
Along the way, the astronauts also stayed in constant touch with a global audience, using social media to update fans on their expedition. Thus far, their photos and images have helped the crew amass over half a million followers on Twitter alone.
In today’s day and age, social media has quickly become an important promotional tool employed by various organizations and companies. The ISS mission, in particular, emphasizes the value of social media as a mechanism for funding. In the past, the International Space Station struggled to obtain a large enough budget to subsidize NASA’s various procedures. The United States, for example, has poured close to $100 billion into the endeavor and continues to contribute about $3 billion a year to the station’s ongoing operation.
Thanks to social media, however, there seems to be a newfound public interest in space, space travel and the ISS in general.
The phenomena began last year, when Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, began to take photographs of Earth from orbit. His Twitter account eventually went viral, gaining over 1 million total followers who he consistently entertained throughout his stay in the ISS.
On this particular mission, however, Wiseman, Gerst and Suraev have seized the opportunity to educate the world on the history of the space station, which has been occupied for roughly 15 years to date. They’ve also focused on highlighting environmental devastation around the world by taking photographs of the visible effects of deforestation and pollution seen from orbit in space.